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LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided, in principle, to set up the Punjab Clean Air Commission to control pollution and smog.

Committees have been established at tehsil and district levels for monitoring measures to control environmental pollution. Recommendations and proposals given by various departments to prevent smog and pollution were discussed in a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Saturday.

According to a handout, the meeting was told that brick kilns would remain closed as per court orders from Oct 20 to Dec 31. A ban on the burning of crops residue would be imposed across the province from Oct 1. It was also decided that an effective and people-friendly strategy would be evolved for stopping operation of two-stroke engines, motorcycle rickshaws and smoke-emitting vehicles.

A social media campaign would be launched to create awareness about the damage caused to environment by the burning of solid waste. A comprehensive mass media campaign would also be designed to create awareness about smog.

Chief Minister Buzdar directed to repair air monitoring equipment and said the air quality system in Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan and Faisalabad must be made functional immediately.

He said smog disrupted daily life, therefore, a sustainable policy to prevent it should be devised.

The Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission needed to devise a system for real-time information about smog and other environmental issues. The South Asia Coordination body be contacted to prevent pollution entering Pakistan from the neighbouring country, the CM ordered.

Those who attended the meeting included federal Environment Minister Amin Aslam, senior provincial minister Abdul Aleem Khan, provincial ministers Mian Aslam Iqbal, Sibtain Khan Niazi, Malik Nouman as well as the inspector general of police and secretaries of departments concerned.

The environment secretary gave a detailed briefing to the meeting participants.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018